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PREVIEW: 2023 DP World Tour – Fortinet Australian PGA Championship

Damien Kayat previews the 2023 edition of the DP World Tour’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship being hosted at the Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Cameron Smith - LIV Golf

Damien Kayat previews the 2023 edition of the DP World Tour’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship being hosted at the Royal Queensland Golf Club.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2023/2024 DP World Tour
Fortinet Australian PGA Championship
Royal Queensland Golf Club, Queensland, Australia
23rd-26th November

We certainly do not live in the age of savouring big moments. Nicolai Hojgaard’s stunning victory at last week’s DP World Tour Championship almost feels cheapened by the lightning-quick turnaround into the new 2023/2024 campaign.

In any event, the Tour moves nimbly on to two competing events this week: the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship and the Joburg Open. I think it’s fair to say that the Australian event is the more star-studded affair.

We can also expect a pretty rowdy atmosphere following the home nation’s heroics in last weekend’s Cricket World Cup final.

The Aussie PGA Championship returned to the DP World Tour last season. The COVID-19 epidemic saw the event removed from the DP World Tour roster in 2020 and 2021. The 2021 edition was absorbed into the Australasian Tour (though it was only played in January last year).

This year’s event will once again be a co-sanctioned affair between the DP World Tour and Australasian Tour. When the Australian PGA Championship first appeared on the DP World Tour schedule it was staged at Royal Pines Golf Club.

That remained the venue until 2019 and then Royal Queensland took over hosting responsibilities in the post-Covid era. Royal Queensland Golf Club was opened way back in 1921. But this week’s course only came into existence in December 2007.

Royal Queensland Golf Club

Designed by former tour pro Mike Clayton, this more modern layout is a generally flat parkland course. The fairways are extremely generous and there is almost no rough to speak of. This really opens up the course to the whims of the bombers.

It is actually very reminiscent of a flat, desert golf track. Its principal protectors are wind and the plethora of strategically placed bunkers (which are very typical of Aussie tracks). Players will also need to scramble well from in and around the greens.

There are plenty of awkward little runoff areas and players will need to chips adroitly. I think length and solid bunker play will still be the predominant indicators of success this week (little wonder that Cam Smith has been so successful here).

There is also some inclement weather expected and this should prove ideal for some of the more linksy operators out there.

The Contenders

Defending champion Cameron Smith will be looking to win his fourth Aussie PGA Championship this week. He- like many of his other LIV cohorts- will also be desperate to pick up some much-needed world ranking points this week.

Smith finished runner-up in this year’s LIV series and the Brisbane boy will be a massive crowd favourite. Elsewhere, the likes of Min-Woo Lee and Adam Scott lead an exciting antipodean supporting cast.

It’s also nice to see some of Europe’s finest making the trip across the pond. Adrian Meronk has been a bastion of consistency this season while Robert MacIntyre will likely still be revelling in his Ryder Cup triumph.

Past Winners

2022: Cameron Smith (-14) *November
2022: Jediah Morgan (-22) *January
2020-2021: no event
2019: Adam Scott (-13)
2018: Cameron Smith (-16)

To Win Outright:

Cameron Smith 4/1 | Min Woo Lee 13/2 | Cameron Davies 9/1 | Adam Scott 10/1 | Adrian Meronk 12/1

Value Bets

Marc Leishman- To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10

2015 Open Championship runner-up Marc Leishman is in desperate need of a performance. Currently ranked 422nd in the world, the LIV acolyte has absolutely plummeted down the rankings of late. He started the year in fine fashion with a sixth place finish at the Saudi International. But he failed to make much of an impression for some time after that. However, the burly Aussie did eventually manage to burst into action on the LIV Tour, picking up runner-up finishes in London and Chicago. He finished 12th here last season ( and with far less form to back him up).

Tom McKibben- To Win 40/1 | To Place 17/2

20-year-old Northern Irishman Tom McKibben has to be one of the most exciting prospects in European golf. Looking to become the next Rory McIlroy, McKibben underlined his burgeoning status with a brilliant victory at the European Open in June. He was 14th at the Dunhill Links last month and he also showcased his desert form with ninth-place finish at the Qatar Masters. Moreover, McKibben has brilliant course memories, finishing runner-up in the 2020 Australian Amateur Championship hosted here. He looks like exceptional value at 40/1.

The Man to Beat- Min Woo Lee- To Win 13/2 | To Place 14/10

I can imagine this is going to be a popular bet this week. Lee has been amazingly consistent of late, finishing in the top 15 in eight of his last eleven worldwide starts. This included an Asian Tour victory at the Macau Open last month. Lee is an exciting young talent who perhaps hasn’t quite realized his stunning potential as of yet. But he played brilliantly during this Aussie stretch last season (finishing fourth in this event and third at the Handa Aussie Open). He also further underlined his desert form with a T2 finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship towards the end of last year. I just feel like he represents real value in the upper reaches of the betting market.

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